Building Armor: Strength is Corrective

This is an excerpt from the recordings I do regularly to capture and share my ideas around performance, nutrition, and strength. It sounds conversational because it is. Enjoy!

Recently I did a presentation for the team on some pretty massive changes to training that I have been thinking about for the past year. I felt like now we could truly start to condition for the sport, we’ve had 2 years of working on the fundamentals and the team was beginning to get a good understanding of the basics.

What I really had to communicate to the team before we started using some more advanced methods was to remind them that strength is always our foundation, that’s what’s going to protect their bodies from getting hurt.

So, when we start doing the more advanced conditioning and somebody gets hurt (during a game… not in the weight room), or I see something I don’t like, they will immediately get pulled off of conditioning and back to strength.

If someone gets hurt, the first thing that we need to get done is get stronger in the area that was injured, as soon as we possibly can once the doctor or trainer says they are ready. But that's not four weeks, that's not even two weeks of inactivity, it's a few days, and then we quickly transition into building strength.

The touchstone in sports and athletics is always strength. As a foundation, we always have to come back to building strength. Your back hurts, let's get stronger. Your shoulder hurts, let's get stronger. Your knees hurt, let's get stronger, and let’s get stronger through a full range of motion. That is how your body stays healthy and safe. Of course, this is under the understanding that more major issues have already been ruled out and we can identify a strength deficit.

I like to think of strength training as building armor for the body. This doesn’t equate to growing huge muscles, especially for females. I’ve been strength training for the last 20 years, and by no means do I have tons of muscle mass. Yes, you will build some muscle, but there is a limit to that. So again, for women reading, you can trust your body to get as strong as possible, and not get enormous.

Another reason we lift weights is because it has an incredible effect on your tendons and your ligaments, making them thicker and stronger. It's not just the muscular strength that can help us reduce injury. It’s the other effects as well, such as thicker ligaments and tendons as well as bone density. This isn’t something we should start thinking about in our 40s and 50s, lets build these dense bones and thicker ligaments now. Let your children start to build those as young athletes. 

Another method that I see a lot of people using is they'll condition their athletes very hard. They then typically only use corrective exercises, the ones that you typically see during physical therapy. They're very targeted exercises designed to strengthen a very specific part of the body.

In most cases, they're not large multiple joint exercises but again more specific single joint exercise. There’s nothing wrong with corrective exercises, but they are a supplement not a staple. It’d be like your only nutrition being a protein shake, definitely not a long term plan that covers all of your bases.

First we squat, we deadlift, we do glute bridges, and we do lunges. Then let's add in some targeted correctives, some lateral side steps, deadbugs, clams… things that are used to build a little bit of strength and bring up what's very weak, but only if it's part of the larger performance program.


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